How to sympathise with "first world" problems

Some struggles win our sympathy easily.
My mother died.
I have cancer.
We are being evicted.

These announcements normally evoke an emotional response. We recognise them as huge, world-breaking problems. They are tragedies with capital ‘T’s.

For this reason it is often easier to sympathise with our chronically ill friend, than our whining-about-their-chipped-nails colleague. And yet, we’ve discussed that as humans (and even more so as Christ-followers) we really ought to sympathise with both.

Easy to say.

Hard to do.
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Why you should sympathise with first world problems (when your own are much bigger)

I stubbed my toe.
I can’t afford concert tickets.
There’s no chocolate in my house.
Who hasn’t heard such complaints? From friends, colleagues – perhaps from yourself.

We often label them “first world problems”.
And they can be annoying. Especially as Watchers.
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How to cope with grief in a public place

What do we do when we find ourselves crying in church? – Is this a silly question? I don’t think it is.

I like practical answers.

If something uncomfortable has to happen, I want to know how I can fix it (or, preferably, avoid it).

What do I do when I find myself crying? Is this a question that needs to be answered?

I think it is.

Why?

Because weeping in public is not a common occurrence in Western culture. We generally try to avoid it – and so when we weep in public it is because we are overcome with grief. Tears take us by surprise; we are unprepared.

And personally, I’d rather not be. So let’s think about it now, before we find ourselves in that situation.

What should we do when we find ourselves overcome with emotion in public place?
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How to love our Wider Watchers

It’s easy, for us Watchers, whose lives are so embroiled with the pain of our Loved One, to forget those around us who aren’t Watchers.

To overlook the lives of those Wider Watchers – our friends, our relations, our own other loved ones, who watch us as we Watch our suffering Loved Ones, is not right.

How do we love our Wider Watchers (and why do we need a post on this?)

Surely, if we all just act like civilised human beings, there’s no need for a specific address on how to ‘love’ those who are not watching as we are.

On one hand that’s true, and on another it’s not. You see, Watching means that we are used to having the pain of one person impact our life. We are used to focusing inward, towards them. We know what it is like to relate to people who are suffering.

And we might, in the process, discover we have a lot less patience for those who are not.

This, my friends, is somewhat natural.

It is also a problem.

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What does society say about sickness (PART 2)?

What does society say about healing, prayer, heaven and sacrificial giving?
Have you been duped?

What do we really think about chronic illness? In the depths of our hearts, in the stillness of our bedrooms… are we really as kind as we think?

Here’s my thoughts on what society is perhaps “really” saying (or thinking!) about chronic illness and care-giving.

If some of these observations seem a bit too harsh, let me reiterate my definitions of “society”:

ONE: secular, not-specifically-Bible-based, thought.

TWO:  individual-focused, 21st century, Western culture (because that’s where I live)

THREE: the ‘natural’ whispers of my heart when it is not focused on Jesus.

You see? If this post is harsh, it is harsh towards myself. If this post is judgemental, I am sitting in the dock as well as on the jury.

Let’s examine ourselves together, and not be afraid of what we might uncover.

This is Part 2 of “What does society say about sickness?”

What society says about prayer

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What does society say about chronic illness (PART 1)?

We know what the Bible says about sickness, but what does society say?
Perhaps it can provide another answer. Even a better answer.

We learnt that the Bible has some guidelines which can help us formulate an ‘answer’ to sickness.

But we can’t stop there.

I think it is important we look at the flip side.

What does society say about Chronic Illness?

A definition of ‘society’

Now, by ‘society’, I mean secular, not-specifically-Bible-based, thought.

I mean the individual-focused, 21st century, Western culture in which I live.

I mean the ‘natural’ whispers of my heart when it is not focused on Jesus.

can you really define ‘society’ like this?

Wait! If at this point you have an objection, I am with you.

If your objection is: ‘We can unearth what the Bible says about sickness by reading it, but how can we discover what society says? It’s too subjective. There’s no manual.’ then I’m with you also.

There is no book for society. It is made up of so many ideologies and sympathies. ‘Society’ is different in different cultures and countries and times.

How on earth can we hope to pin down in one post the response of ‘society in general’ to chronic illness?

To even consider doing so seems pretentious on the largest scale.

Continue reading “What does society say about chronic illness (PART 1)?”